Now that NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has completed its first test flight on the red planet, members of the agency’s Southern California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory will prepare for the next stages of their mission.
Over the next three Martian days — also known as sols — the helicopter’s team will receive and analyze data and imagery from the first flight and devise a plan for the second experimental test, which is scheduled for no sooner than April 22.
“If the helicopter survives the second flight test, the Ingenuity team will consider how best to expand the flight profile,” NASA said in a Monday release.
Ingenuity will conduct up to five flights, assuming NASA continues to successfully clear potential hurdles, each with chances to record additional data for future use.
After Ingenuity is done, the Perseverance rover will resume its focus on surface operations.
NASA’s Perseverance Twitter account also wrote that it had been imaging some of the local rocks at the lookout point ahead of Ingenuity’s liftoff.
Perseverance will still be used to communicate with the now fully autonomous Ingenuity throughout the process.
In cooperation with NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), will send spacecraft to Mars to collect the cached samples — stored in tubes and placed on a storage rack before set in the same area on Mars’ surface — and return them to Earth for analysis.
The rover may cache over 30 selected rock and “soil” samples before its task is complete.